Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, brother of Queen Jane Seymour, and uncle of King Edward VI, secretly married his third wife, the wealthy widow Frances Prannell, in 1601. She would have had many suitors, but her most ardent admirer was Sir George Rodney, a Somersetshire gentleman, possessed of considerable estates, in the prime of life and highly accomplished.
When the secret marriage became public, the distraught Rodney summoned up his spirits and travelled to Amesbury, where the Earl and Countess were resident, taking a room at the George Inn.
He shut himself up in the chamber and wrote an extensive paper of well-composed verses to the countess in his blood, wherein he bewails and laments his happiness.
Sweet poison, precious woe, infectious jewel -
Such is a lady that is fair and cruel.
The reply from Frances was sent to The George:
The love that should have thanked you is bestowed!
So, I must die in debt: my heart is gone.
You are not he, and I must have but one.
To add a sad catastrophe to all his miseries, George ran himself upon his sword and died from his injuries:
In starry letters I behold
My death [is] in the heavens enrolled
There find I writ in skies above That I (poor I!) must die for love